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Interstate Commission for Water Coordination of Central Asia

Aral Sea Basin Programs

The Aral Sea Basin Program (ASBP) is the main long-term program of action in the region for sustainable development, including water resources management and environmental protection. The development of programs and monitoring of its implementation is a priority of the Executive Committee of IFAS. The program includes national and regional projects aimed at rehabilitation and sustainable development in the Aral Sea region.

First Aral Sea Basin Program (ASBP-1): 1995-2001

Second Aral Sea Basin Program (ASBP-2): 2002-2010

Third Aral Sea Basin Program (ASBP-3): 2010-2015

Upon the initiative of the Chair country of the IFAS (Turkmenistan), a new program is being prepared for implementation in the Aral Sea basin. On January 30, 2018, at a meeting of the IFAS Board in Ashgabat, it was decided to develop an action program to assist countries in the Aral Sea basin (ASBP-4).

First Aral Sea Basin Program, 1995-2001

The ASBP-1 was implemented in 1995-2003 under the umbrella of the International Fund for Saving the Aral Seaestablished in 1993.

During the first stage of ASBP-1, nine programs were implemented with technical and financial assistance of the World Bank:

    1. Regional water management strategy.

    2. Improved efficiency of water resources management and ensuring the sustainability of dams and reservoirs.

    3. Hydrometeorological services and the regional environmental information system.

    4. Water quality management, Drainage program in Uzbekistan.

    5. Restoration of wetlands and regulation of the Amu Darya and Syr Darya flows.

    6. Clean water and health.

    7. Water Management in the upper catchment.

    8. Automation of water infrastructure.

    9. Capacity building.

The total cost of these programs was 60.8 million US dollars, of which only 22.25 million US dollars were attracted and disbursed with the assistance of the World Bank.

As a second stage of the ASBP-1, a project on water and environmental management was implemented in 1998-2003, which was funded by the Global Environment Facility, the Governments of the Netherlands and Sweden.

The total project budget amounted to 21.5 million US dollars, including 4.1 million US dollars – due to the countries of Central Asia.

The project has implemented six components:

Component A «Water resources management and water and soil salinity control» – The goal of the component is to develop regional and national scenarios and strategies for sustainable water management and its allocation with environmental consideration in the Syrdarya and Amudarya rivers basins and assist decision-makers in five countries in preparation of the mid-and long-term water management agreements .

Component B «Public awareness» – The goal of the component is to assist in public awareness and understanding of the need to save water, raising respect for water and contributing to change consumers’ attitude to water.

Component C «Dams and reservoirs safety management» – The goal of the component is to evaluate the safety of dams in the region; upgrading monitoring and warning systems on individual dams based on pilot projects; and drafting emergency measures on dam restorations.

Component D «Monitoring of transboundary waters» – The goal of the component is to build capacity for monitoring by independent bodies of qualitative and quantitative parameters of river flow on 37 transboundary water measuring structures.

Component E «Restoration of wetlands» – The goal of the component is to restore wetlands of Lake Sudoche, which is a nesting place of declining species of migratory birds.

Component F «Project Management Support»

Water and Environment Management Project was completed on October 31, 2003 by the decision of the Board of IFAS.

A large-scale project «Regulation of the Syrdarya River and Preservation of the Northern Aral Sea» (PRSSAM-1) was implemented in the Kazakhstani part of the Aral Sea region under the ASBP-1. The start of the project was in November 2002. The project was financed by the World Bank’s loan amounting 64.5 million US dollars and co-financed by the Government – in the amount of 21.29 million US dollars.

Second Aral Sea Basin Program, 2002-2010

The ASBP-2 was developed in accordance with the Decision of the Heads of States made in Dushanbe on October 6, 2002. The period of implementation 2003-2010 and total cost of 1,993.9 million US dollars. The program was approved by the IFAS Board on August 28, 2003. The program included the following fourteen priorities:

    1. Development of agreed mechanisms for Aral Sea Basin integrated water management

    2. Rehabilitation of water facilities and improvement water and land use

    3. Improvement of environmental monitoring systems

    4. Program for disaster management

    5. Assistance program for the solution of social problems of the region

    6. Strengthening the material-technical and legal framework of multilateral organizations

    7. Development and implementation of national environmental programs in watersheds

    8. Development and implementation of regional and national programs on efficient water consumption in the economy of Central Asian countries

    9. Development and implementation of an international program on sanitary-ecological improvement of human settlements and natural ecosystems of Aral Sea Region

    10. Development of international environmental sustainability and biological productivity recovery program

    11. The concept of sustainable development of the Aral Sea Basin

    12. Regional Action Programme to Combat Desertification

    13. Development of wetlands in the lowlands of the Amudarya and Syrdarya rivers

    14. Rationalizing the use of saline drainage water.

The second program was implemented only partially, mainly by the countries’ own efforts with total budget of about 50 million US dollars.

Third Aral SeaBasin Program, 2010-2015

On April 28, 2009, the Heads of the Central Asia states made a joint statement, highlighting the important role of IFAS in coordinating and addressing the fundamental aspects of cooperation to overcome the Aral Sea Basin crisis and strengthen the collaboration with the UN system institutions and other international organizations. It was decided that EC IFAS jointly with the Interstate Commission for Water Coordination, Interstate Commission for Sustainable Development of the IFAS with participation of national experts and donors to develop a Program of actions for the period 2011-2015 (ASBP-3).

The ASBP-3 was adopted on the basis of a decision of the IFAS Board (December 10, 2010, Almaty). The ASBP-3 included the implementation of about 300 national and regional projects totaling more than 15.0 billion US dollars.

Fourth Aral Sea Basin Program (ASBP-4)

Within the IFAS Summit – on August 23, 2018, at an extraordinary meeting of the Fund’s Board, the ASBP-4 Concept was approved. The directions of the ASBP-4 are as follows:

  • Integrated water resources management;
  • Environmental direction;
  • Socio-economic development;
  • Improved institutional and legal mechanisms.

These directions cover the whole spectrum of existing problems of the Aral Sea basin and logically follow from previous practices.